Pinterest Tested: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Welcome to Pinterest Tested! Ever wonder if that miracle cleaner is really miraculous? Or what about that homemade facial cleanser or delicious-looking recipe? This is the place to find out! Each Monday I am testing Pins that catch my eye to see if they really live up to the claims made on Pinterest. It’s like the Mythbusters of Domesticity!

Here’s a link to the PIN up for testing this week.

THE TEST: Can homemade dishwasher detergent get my dishes clean and save me money?
Since the homemade laundry soap I tested a few weeks back has been working so well for me, I have wanted to try making my own dishwasher detergent too.

And it turns out dishwasher detergent is even easier because there’s no soap grating involved. The hardest part was opening all the little packets of lemonade!

I mixed one box Borax, 1 box washing soda, and 24 packets of lemonade together in an ice cream bucket and done. Easy! Some recipes called for 3 cups salt, some didn’t. I decided to leave it out. No scientific reason…. I just didn’t remember to get it at the store and didn’t want to make an extra trip. You can substitute ½ cup citric acid for the lemonade, but I couldn’t find any at the stores near me. Besides, how fun is it to make soap that has Kool-Aid in it?!

An important part of this recipe is using white vinegar as a rinse aid. It keeps the dishes from getting that white film. I unscrewed the little round lid of the rinse aid, poured some into the hole until it reached the fill line, then screwed the lid back on. Again, this was so easy!

I am going to use one tablespoon of detergent for every load of dishes.

Here’s the cost breakdown:
Borax: $3.38
Washing Soda:$3.17
Lemonade: $2.88 ($0.12 per packet)

I measured it out and it’s enough for 236 loads of dishes if I use one tablespoon each time, making it 4 cents per load compared to the price of store-bought detergent (about 14 cents per load). If I wash one load of dishes per day, this homemade detergent would save me $36 per year. If I wash two loads of dishes per day, it saves me $73 per year! Not bad, not bad!

So how has it been working? I’ve used it on four loads of dishes now and can’t tell a difference from the expensive Cascade I was using before. Seems like a winner to me!

THE RESULTS: Works as well as what I have been using and it saves me a dime every time I wash a load of dishes (which will add up quick with as many loads as I seem to do!) And bonus: it was really easy to make!

Added later: Now that I’ve been using this detergent for a little longer, I do not like it!!!It seemed to work fine the first few times I washed dishes, but now I am noticing the white filmy stuff is building up on my glass plates and cups in a big sort of way. 

Added even later: LemiShine keeps my dishes from getting filmy, but it’s expensive, which defeats the whole purpose of making the homemade detergent! I will use up the batch I made, but then I definitely won’t make more in the future.


  1. I am going to give this a try……trying so hard this year to stop the "spending"……labels…..labels……labels! Hated wearing tham as a kid (and thankfully passed that on to my kids)! So why not on everyday items…..Good buy name brands, hello savings! Thanks for the report!

  2. Try using Lemishine instead of the kool-aid. I found mine in the dishwasher soap section of Wal-mart next to the rinse aids.

  3. I saw that one pinner retested this and added the solution of vinegar and 2 drops of dawn (which is normally a big no-no in the dishwasher) she said it gets rid of the cloudy film.

  4. Ran across your blog … I actually don't know how!

    But I had a problem with film on my dishes too … and after some research I found TSP powder does the trick. I don't even measure, just sprinkle a little bit in each time and it helps the dishes rinse off perfectly!

    I don't use homemade detergent but the cascade I use has no phosphates – which is what does the clean rinsing. TSP (trisodium phosphate) puts them back in and solves the problem! 🙂 You can buy it on Amazon in a box for like $14. I've had my box for 2 years and have barely made a dent in it.

  5. Lemishine works great… but to get rid of the film/cloudy look of the dishes fill up the dish rinse thing (you know, where you would put the Jet Dry stuff) with white vinegar. Crystal clear dishes!

  6. Lemishine worked good until I ran out, then I started getting a film. Someone on another site suggested putting a squirt of Dawn dish soap in with the soap, it worked great and now I love it!

  7. Thank you, everyone for your helpful comments!

    I have NOT tried the recipe you posted a link to(which is 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda and vinegar in the rinse aid).

    The Parish Family-
    I am really interested in trying the TSP! Thanks for the suggestion!

    I am currently using Lemishine in the extra compartment and vinegar in the rinse aid and it has made the homemade detergent usable. Whew! I had a whole ice cream tub full of the stuff and wouldn't want it to go to waste!

  8. We have extremely hard water. So hard that we had to replace our dishwasher. Now we use Citric acid with powder detergent. I use the cheapest detergent i can find. I use maybe a tablespoon of citric acid and a table spoon of detergent. we have no problem. the easiest way for me to tell is the heating element never gets hard water crust. we just buy a 10 lb bag of citric acid on amazon. it is kinda expensive, but less expensive than a new dishwasher. eventually we just need to buy a water softener.

  9. Ok so I have a fancy dishwasher that only is supposedto use finish. When I run out of finish thisi smy recipe. I also use vinegar instead of jet dry
    not sure of total amount I don't make am assive quanity at a time because it will start to harden. To avoild that I have a silicone thing from a shoebox. Some have used a baggie filled with rice. I do equal parts
    kosher salt
    lemi shine or dishwasher magic
    few lemon koolaid packets
    super washing soda
    works great on my super hard water. We don't have a water softener. I use about ounce container to32 oz.containerto hold it. Works great! Not sure on total cost because i use borax and washing soda in other recipes

  10. I would suggest trying this again WITH the SALT, since I understand that is the ingredient that helps the hard water issue! If you have soft water then omit the salt.


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